By: Anita O. Uzama

Case Manager

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Jungle justice in Nigeria is fast becoming a trend in our society. We see videos on the news and social media about the mobs lynching an individual and burning them to death based on alleged accusations.

Jungle justice or street justice is the act of individuals taking law into their hands by punishing someone for crimes allegedly committed to serve as an example to others. Once an accusation or alarm is made about an individual, they become the prosecutor, jury and judge without the accused defending the allegations. 

In a normal setting, the accused is taken into police custody whereby investigations are conducted to either prove the allegation false or true.  The accused is acquitted of all charges if found innocent and punished by the court if guilty. 

Living in a society where due process is not followed, the result is anarchy and wrongful persecution of the innocents. Take for instance, the Aluu killing in 2012 where four promising students from the university of Port-Harcourt were killed based on unfounded allegation made against them.

The Aluu four is one of the many cases of jungle justice in Nigeria. One would ask how and what jungle justice looks like. Here’s an example.

it’s a beautiful day to watch a movie. I checked the movies showing in the cinema and the one I was interested in was 2.55pm. I still had time to go and get food stuffs.  I put on a yellow tee-shirt on a blue jean with a pair of slippers and of cause my hand bag.

The market was filled up with people from different places who came to sell their goods and also make purchases. I walked down to the meat seller, bought meat and moved down to the person selling tomatoes. On walking down, there was a sudden shift in the atmosphere. I could hear shouts coming down the path I was. People running towards my direction. 

Without thinking twice, I turned and ran. Screams of “thief, thief” filled the air. I missed a step and fell down. My bag slipped from my hands and was lost. On standing up, I was quickly surrounded by people. Some were holding sticks, planks while some stood with clenched fists. None had a friendly face and I could feel fear crawling on my skin. I saw a flash and felt a hand on my face “tuah” with a loud sound and several more followed.

“We don catch you today. You think say you go escape. Oya we go use you teach others lesson. Nobody go come this market con thief again. Thank God say the person wey you thief from remember say na yellow tee-shirt the thief wear. Quick go bring tire come make we burn am”.

The more I screamed “no, I’m innocent”, the more the crowd shouted “burn her”. No one wanted to hear my story neither did I know what I was accused of. Everything happened so fast. The smell of petrol drifted to my nose as tires were placed on my neck. I cried for help and all was ignored and the petrol was poured on me. Someone lit a match stick and threw it on me. I was suddenly engulfed in flames. I felt my skin burning and there was nothing I could do. My life flashed before me and I wished I had stayed at home. There was no way of escape and they stood watching me scream my lungs out. Gradually, I felt my life slowly ebbing away and my voice coarse from screaming. Finally, I was alone and at peace.

This and more have been the experiences of people who jungle justice was meted out on. For some, the judgements passed didn’t merit the crime. What then is the role of education?

 Most of these acts are done by youths and people who pour out their grievances on their victims. Their anger is channeled on the wrong people through jungle justice. Majority of the people perpetuating this act are not directly affected but are just passersby who thirst for action. When looked closely, one will realize that they are not educated.

“intelligence plus character… that is the goal of true education” Martin Luther King Jnr.

If 50% of the crowd are educated, reason would have prevailed. The accused would have been asked his/her side of the story and the aggrieved will do same. This enables one to have a true picture of what happened. From communication with both parties, facts will be the measure and the criminal handed over to the relevant authorities.

Emotional intelligence can be built and cultivated in the lives of the children in the society through educating them. We want a society who can critically think for itself and also for others. Most of the violent response leading to loss of lives and properties can be curbed. In the presence of an educated individual, rule of law is obeyed. Nothing has ever been gained through violence.

“if we want to teach real peace in this world, we should start educating children” Mahatma Gandhi”.



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